THE PROBLEM WITH AN ANTIPASTO THAT TASTES THIS GOOD, IS…
TONIGHT, I think, a good part of the known universe in food-blogosphere, is preparing for the meticulously collaborated, epically “trashed up” baby shower of the year, for one of the most beloved stranger, whom we call friend. This is certainly, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the most happening event that I was ever invited to, for the past
one two (other than the appearance at my own birth) three-plus decades. So you see, this is big.
If you are anything like me, at the moments before what looks surely to be a gastronomically impressive party, with booze in your hands, you’d start fiddling your fingers for something to nibble on. And this is exactly where something like this, is punctually welcomed.
This is an inspiration from both Bon Appetit, as well as another stranger-friend, that I literally just made 2 hours ago and could not wait to share. An incredibly creamy, almost creme-fraiche-like whipped feta cheese, swirled together with sweet, slow-cooked baby carrot pesto freshened up with its own parsley-like fronds. This feta, I should remind you, isn’t that feta, something that you generally push with a discontented fork around a pile of cucumbers and tomatoes. You cannot imagine, after a good run in the food-processor with whole milk and white wine, how un-feta-like the feta can become. The saltiness, a prominent characteristic of this particular cheese, contrasts deliciously with the slowly sautéed carrots and the extracted sweetness, that all in all, will make a torn piece of crusty bread taste extraordinary.
Well, as I know all too well myself, the problem with an antipasto that tastes this good, is that it robs the appetite you’re saving for the main attractions. To that dilemma, I really have no answer, for tomorrow what’s in store, is also gonna blow you away.
- 11 oz (310 grams) baby carrots with fronds (weight of carrots without fronds = 7.8 oz/220 grams)
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) extra virgin olive oil, plus more to adjust
- 2 clove smashed garlic, divided
- 1 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
- 1/3 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 anchovy fillet
- 3/4 tsp light brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
- Splash of tabasco sauce
- 14 oz (400 grams) creamy style feta cheese
- 1/4 cup (60 grams) whole milk
- 1 tbsp white wine
- TO MAKE THE CARROT PESTO: If you can't find baby carrots with fronds/leaves, you can substitute with normal carrots and parsley. Dice the baby carrots into small chunks and reserve the fronds/leaves. You have about 1 1/2 cup diced carrots. Add the carrots, extra virgin olive oil, 1 smashed garlic (leave another one for later), fresh thyme leaves, salt, ground black pepper and ground turmeric in a pot. Cook over medium heat for 15 ~ 20 min, until the carrots are soft.
- Meanwhile, in a stone-mortar or food-processor, puree the reserved smashed garlic, anchovy fillet, light brown sugar, white wine vinegar and tabasco sauce. Add the cooked carrots and all its oil, then pulse/pound until the mixture is coarsely ground. Add 2 more tbsp of extra virgin olive oil if the consistency is too thick. Stir in about 1/4 cup of chopped carrot fronds. Set aside.
- TO WHIP THE FETA: Cut the creamy feta (usually come in blocks) into small chunks, then add to a food-processor along with whole milk and white wine. Run until the mixture is smoothly pureed and creamy.
- Serve the whipped feta with carrot pesto and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Serve with crusty breads.
Choose feta cheese labeled as "creamy" instead of "crumbly".
The amount of sugar added to the pesto may seem like a lot for savoury dishes, but it's needed to balance out the saltiness in the feta.